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Deputy leader 'asked to step down'

Coun David Brown, who has already stepped down from his role in cabinet, was asked to step aside as deputy leader by the council leader

Coun David Brown

Deputy leader David Brown has been forced to step down from his role while a police investigation into the council is carried out.

Coun David Brown stepped down as a cabinet member for highways at the end of last month after Cheshire East Council asked police to look into the allocation of £70,000 of council money for a school in Crewe.

Now he has been asked to stand aside from his role as deputy leader by council leader Rachel Bailey.

In a statement, Coun Bailey said: “I appreciate that Coun David Brown took the decision to stand aside from cabinet member responsibilities for the highways and infrastructure portfolio.

“I have now taken the decision that he is to stand aside from his duties as deputy leader of the council for the duration of the investigation into the granting of funds to Berkeley Academy, with immediate effect.

“The role of deputy leader includes covering the responsibilities of the leader of the council where and when I am not available.

“This may well include dealing with matters relating to the highways and infrastructure portfolio, which would put Coun Brown into an untenable position. Coun Brown will not receive the additional deputy leader’s allowance during this time and will not sit on cabinet.”

Coun Brown told a cabinet meeting last week that he didn’t step down as deputy leader voluntarily because ‘that would be an admission in the eyes of the public as me being guilty’.

The Tory councillor, who represents Congleton, said: “I stepped aside as cabinet member because I thought, from a transparency point of view, that’s the right thing to do.

“Since then I have received some rather bizarre comments, some pretty hurtful comments, which is why I haven’t stepped aside as deputy leader because I believe I need to protect my personal integrity and for me to admit that would be an admission in the eyes of the public as me being guilty.

“I don’t believe I’ve done anything unlawful or illegal.

“The work that I was doing on Berkeley School has ended up with a result for that school which is a better solution than the one originally proposed to make the children safer.”

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting Coun Bailey said: “I trust it will be recognised that this is a natural progression in that a deputy leader of council has to represent the authority, indeed all members on many occasions, and I wouldn’t want this authority, or indeed Coun Brown, to be compromised and it’s my decision that he should stand aside.”

Coun Bailey is expected to appoint a temporary deputy at the full council meeting tomorrow (Thursday, October 17).

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